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Washer & Dryer Buying Guide

Curated by Claudia Shannon / Research Scientist / ishonest

Make laundry day brighter with a new washer and dryer designed to handle larger loads, get dirty clothes cleaner in less time, and use less water and energy.

You’ll love the innovative features, like steam technology and wrinkle release/ steam refresh, and the sleek styles in front loaders, top loaders, and laundry centers. So whether you wash every day, big loads or small, in a laundry room or closet—there’s a solution to fit your family’s size and available space.Front- load washer and dryer pairs are becoming increasingly popular for their stylish design, fun color options, and high performance. Front-loading washers use less water and are more energy-efficient. Pedestals raise your washer and dryer to a more comfortable height for loading and unloading and also add storage drawers for laundry essentials.

Shopping for a new washer & dryer?

The laundry room gets a major upgrade with wow-factor designs and modern enhancements.Why not make the cycle of washing, drying, and folding a little more fun with a playful and bright space? Designers are turning to punchy patterns, elegant fixtures, and soothing colors to create pretty and functional laundry rooms. With your new laundry room, the idea of housework seems a lot less like work and a lot more like a welcome escape. With these upgrades you can turn your laundry room into a space you won’t want to leave.

Front Loading vs. Top Loading Washers
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Front-loading washing machines are considered better than top-loading washers because they use less water, are more energy-efficient, and cause less wear and tear on your clothes. Although top-loading washing machines are more expensive up front, the cost to run is much lower over time.Top-loading washers are less expensive initially, but the highest cost to operate It uses more water and energy than other washers. Top-loading washing machines typically have less capacity than front-loaders. Agitator models can also cause additional wear and tear on clothes from twisting and tangling. Due to popular demand, many manufacturers still make top-loading washing machines but front loading washer and dryer pairs are becoming increasingly popular for their stylish design, fun color options, and high performance.

How much space do you need for a standard-size washer dryer?

You’ll find the largest selection in standard side-by-side washers and dryers; each measuring 27-29 inches wide by 36 inches deep. A space that is 36 inches deep by 60 inches long will be able to accommodate just about any washer and dryer pair sitting side by side.Pro Tip: Be sure to measure the height, width, and depth of the area where the appliance will be located to ensure you have enough room. Add 4-6 inches to the depth for vents and hook-ups, and 48 inches in front for door clearance and room to move.Check the electrical output to ensure adequate power is available. Most washers require a 110-volt grounded 3- prong electrical outlet within 4 feet. Check to see if your dryer is powered by electricity or gas. Most electric dryers require a 240/208-volt outlet (typically a 10-30R or 14-30R receptacle), which is twice that of a standard outlet.Select the right dryer based on the available fuel source in your area.

Washers and Dryers for Small Spaces

24-inch washers and dryers can be installed in small corners, closets, and under kitchen counters. If floor space is limited, stack your dryer on top of your washer. Did you know that 24-inches is the standard size for washers and dryers for most countries around the world? This means there are a plethora of great options to choose from.Cool new product: The new Miele compact washer and dryers require regular 110V plugs and are not vented, so they can be installed anywhere in your home with minimal hassle, even a master closet!Did you know? All compact dryers are electric. Most are ventless, which is ideal for urban installations. The units are sold separately and may require a stacking kit to secure them in place, but going vertical frees up floor space.

Washer Dryer Combos

Washer dryer combos are ideal for apartments that don’t have space for a separate washer and dryer or an external venting source, which conventional dryers require. Plus some models run on standard voltage electricity.

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Portable Washers

Portable washers are great for rentals or condominiums. The washers have quick- connect attachments that fit most standard faucets so you don’t need direct plumbing.

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What washer cycles do you need?
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Preloaded washer cycles and features are designed to take the guesswork out of laundry. Different wash, spin speed, and temperature combinations will be safer for different kinds of fabric.Here are a few popular choices to consider:

  • Steam Cycle helps remove tough stains like protein and grass without pre- treating. The steam that penetrates deep into the fabric fibers also loosens soil and odors for a deep clean.
  • Extra Rinse Cycle ensures that less detergent is left on the clothes.
  • NSF Sanitizing Cycle will kill up to 99.9 percent of microorganisms including bacteria and allergens. Look for washers with an internal water heater, a sanitize cycle or temperature boost cycle.
  • Load Sensing fill technology detects how much water is needed to wash a load based on its weight, so you never waste water.
  • Automatic Dispensing Systems, only available on select brands, take the guesswork out of adding the right amount of detergent.
  • Gentle Cycle tenderly cleans fine fabrics.
  • Quick Wash Cycle lets you wash a small load in as little as 15 minutes.
  • Delay Start allows you to set the washer to run when it’s convenient for you.
  • Heavy Duty Cycle will remove tough stains.

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What is the quietest washing machine?

If you do laundry in an area close to your living space, the noise level will be important. Volume is the noise made during the spin cycle of your washer. Top- loaders are somewhat noisier than front-loaders. Front-loaders vibrate but the noise is determined in part by whether it sits on a wood floor or a concrete slab, which absorbs vibrations. While there is no noise-rating system for washers, look for machines that have vibration and noise reduction features and are approved for second-floor installation.

What is the best washing machine for a large family?

Washer and dryer drums are measured in cubic feet. A 4-5-cubic-foot capacity machine can wash 20 pounds of laundry per load, which is large enough for a family with two children. As a general rule, your dryer capacity is usually approximately double the size of your washer. While it’s true that a bigger capacity washer will help you get through laundry day faster, you also want to make sure that you’re buying a washer that will fit into your home and meet your needs.When shopping for a new washer and dryer, it’s best to select machines with stainless steel on the inside. Stainless steel drums are more durable than plastic or porcelain drums and won’t chip, crack, or scratch. They are also gentler on clothes.

Vented vs. Ventless Dryers
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All vented dryers use a rotating drum to tumble the clothes through heated air. As the clothes dry, excess air is expelled through a vent to the outside. Most dryers have to be vented to the outside, but there are a few manufacturers that make ventless dryers that are perfect for apartment dwellers with residential code restrictions.

Gas vs. Electric Dryers

The connections you have in your home will most likely determine whether you will need a gas or electric dryer. Natural gas provides a clean, efficient fuel to accomplish the job economically. New gas dryers are designed for efficiency with features such as pilotless ignition and automatic shutoff. Conversion kits (sold separately) can change a dryer fueled by natural gas to one fueled by liquid propane. Electric dryers use electricity to send hot air into the drum instead of gas. Test results from Consumer Reports state that based on average utility rates, it costs 14 cents to dry a 12-pound mixed load in a gas dryer, and 44 cents in an electric dryer.

What dryer cycles do you need?

Preloaded dryer cycles and features will make it easier to protect clothes from unnecessary wear and tear from over-drying.Here are a few popular choices to consider:

  • Delicate Cycle maintains a low temperature for clothes made of gentle fabrics such as silk or linen.
  • Mixed Load Cycle keeps temperatures in a safe range when drying various types of fabrics together.
  • Steam Cycle uses bursts of steam to reduce wrinkles and remove odors leaving clothes fresh, even on an outfit you’ve already worn.
  • Extended Tumble/Wrinkle Prevention Cycle ensures clothes stay fresh until you are ready to empty the dryer. Some models tumble without heat; while others cycle on and off.
  • Sanitize Cycle eliminates household bacteria in clothes using steam or high heat. This cycle can help provide some relief for family members suffering from allergies.
  • Moisture Sensor detects the amount of moisture left in the load. The dryer will automatically adjust the dry time to ensure that each load comes out perfect and stops a load early if it senses that it is already dry.
  • Dryer Rack provides tumble-free drying ideal for delicate items as well as sneakers or other heavy items that could damage the dryer drum if they were to tumble.

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What can smart washers and dryers do?
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Smart washers and dryers can do more than clean!

Your laundry is considered smart if it leverages connectivity to enhance your experience in a meaningful way. You will be able to use your phone or home automation device to initiate or stop a cycle, download new cycles, monitor cycle progress, and monitor the health of your machine. Benefits vary from brand to brand, here are a few key things to consider: Whether you’re a technical whiz or a smartphone newbie, you will benefit from remote diagnostics. Anything can break and appliances are complex machines that incorporate a plethora of electronic and mechanical components. With remote diagnostics, your washer or dryer can identify the exact problem. Some can even notify the manufacturer on your behalf to schedule a speedy fix!

  • Cycle status notifications: It seems that every product you buy has a corresponding app, so it’s no surprise that every appliance manufacturer has one. With smart laundry, you can monitor your cycle and receive an alert when the cycle is finished.
  • Remote activation: Some manufacturers allow you to operate your washer and dryer from your device. Remote activation is the new “delay start.” Make your laundry work around your schedule.
  • Auto replenishment: Never run out of detergent again, your machine can sync to your Amazon account and make sure you’re fully stocked.
  • Cycle customization: We should take better care of our clothes. Clothes are expensive and we spend a lot of time shopping. With smart laundry, you can download cycles and tailor them to your specific needs.

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Will I save money with an energy-efficient washing machine?

Energy-efficient washers use less water. They also remove more water from your wash load too; meaning less time in the dryer—lowering your electric bill (and gas bill, if you have a gas dryer). Energy Star® or HE(High Efficiency) labeled washers are 30 percent more energy efficient than the federal standard and use 50 percent less water. According to ENERGY STAR®, clothes dryers aren’t rated because there’s little difference in the energy use between models. However, many manufacturers, states and utility companies offer rebates on energy- efficient machines.

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If you see the ENERGY STAR® logo it means the product is better for the environment because it uses less energy than a standard model. Earning the ENERGY STAR® means products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the US Environmental Protection Agency. By choosing ENERGY STAR® it is easy for you to identify and purchase energy-efficient products that help save on energy bills without sacrificing performance, features, and comfort.If you’re shopping for a new appliance, it’s important to make sure you look for the EnergyGuide label. That’s the yellow tag (shown below) you’ll find attached to most appliances letting you know how much energy an appliance uses. The more energy-efficient an appliance is, the less it costs to run, and the lower your utility bills might be.By using less energy, you can help reduce air pollution and conserve natural resources. Help yourself (and help save energy and water) by cashing in that clunker and upgrading to a new ENERGY STAR® appliance.EnergyGuide labels are not all the same; they’re specific to a type of appliance. The labels give you a way to compare the energy use of similar appliances. Look for these labels on clothes washers, dishwashers, refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioners, ductless heating, and cooling systems, and dehumidifiers. They are not available on ranges, ovens or clothes dryers because they consume large amounts of energy.

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